Bhagavad-gita – Among women I am…. (10.34)
For those new to the fray, I have a segment on my blog where I take a Gita verse or two and post the translations from four different Gaudia Vaisnava Bhagavad-gitas. I use Srila Prabhupada’s, Tripurari Swami’s, Narayana Maharaja’s and Garuda dasa’s. While all four are accepted by different Gaudia Vaisnavas, it’s really nice to see the harmony in them. It’s also nice to learn how they differ. Maybe it’s some of that “unity in diversity” jazz.
I don’t do this to say “this Bhagavad-gita is better than that Bhagavad-gita!” And I don’t do this to stir, create, tickle or otherwise agitate controversy.
The verse I’m picking today is Bhagavad-gita 10.34. Chapter 10 is a great chapter. The Opulence of the Absolute! The Yoga of Divine Manifestation! Viubhuti Yoga! The Sublime Presence of Divinity! Whatever you call it, Chapter 10 is a good bit of fun!
In Chapter 10, Krishna describes himself through use of smilies. A few months ago, I did a verse from Chapter 10. It was the “Of Secret Things I am Silence” verse. That’s one of my favorites.
But today is text 34. So let’s get on it with it!
Chapter 10, Text 34
I am all-devouring death, and I am the generator of all thins yet to be. Among women I am fame, fortune, speech, memory, intelligence, faithfulness and patience.
I am death, destroyer of all; I am the source of all things yet to be. Of women I am fame, prosperity, speech, memory, intelligence, fortitude, and forbearance.
I am all-devouring death, and of the six progressive transformations experienced by all living beings, I am birth. Among women, I am fame, beauty, fine speech, memory, intelligence, forbearance and forgiveness.
-Narayana MaharajaI am death, which takes away everything, and the rising into being of all that will be. Of feminine attributes [and their presiding goddesses], I am fame, beauty, speech, remembrance, intelligence, constancy, and forbearance. -Garuda dasa (Graham M. Schweig)
The chapter 10 verses are difficult to do because basically, they’re lists. Lists are translated by item, so you don’t have a ton of variation here. But since Praveen mentioned this verse in one of the comments she left yesterday, I thought that I’d tackle this one today.
Both Srila Prabhupada and Naryana Maharaja use “I am all-devouring death.” Tripurari Swami uses “I am death, destroyer of all.” While Garuda dasa uses “I am death, which takes away everything.” While we don’t know Garuda dasa’s word-for-word, Both Prabhupada and Naryana Maharaja translate sarva-harah as “all-devouring” and Tripurari Swami translates it as “destroyer of all.”
Krishna is saying that “I am death, I take away everything, I destroy all.”
It continues in Srila Prabhupada’s as “I am the generator of all things yet to be.” Tripurari Swami’s pretty well agrees with that: “I am the source of all things yet to be.” Generator and source are basically the same. Prabhupada translates udbhavah as “generator” and Tripurari Swami translates it as “source.”
Garuda dasa’s has a slightly different twist on it with “[I am]… the rising into being of all that will be.” His is poetic (that’s the point of his translation). It clearly shows the cycle of death and birth. Krishna is death that takes away everything and he’s the rising into being of all that will be. Birth.
While Srila Prabhupada’s and Tripurari Swami’s say that Krishna is the generator/source, Garuda dasa’s hints that He’s not just the origin of this birth, but the activity itself. He “is the rising into being…” “rising” is a verb, while “generator” and “source” are nouns. I wish I could see his word-for-word. Was he literally translating it? Or was he taking a poetic license? I don’t think it really changes the meaning. After all, we do worship an absolute God.
But Narayana Maharaja’s is very different. “…and of the six progressive transformations experienced by all living beings, I am birth.” The conclusion is the same: I am birth. But where does “…and of the six progressive transformations experienced by all living beings” come from?
He translates bhavisyatam as “of the progressive samskaras.” In contrast, Srila Prabhupada translates it as “of the future” and Tripurari Swami as “of future manifestations.”
Srila Prabhupada, in his purport, explains the “six basic changes” as “They are born, they grow, they remain for some time, they reproduce, they dwindle and finally vanish.” Those are the progressive transformations. I’m not sure why Narayana Maharaja translated them as “samskaras.” Maybe at one time, vedically, there were ceremonies for each stage.
All of the translations, except for Garuda dasa’s, translate “narinam” as “of (or ‘among’) women.” Garuda dasa’s translates it as “Of feminine attributes,” which is rather different, but same point. Again, we don’t have his word-for-word to see how he came to that conclusion.
Moving on, here’s a quick little chart. They go, from top to bottom:
fame fortune speech memory intelligence faithfulness patience fame prosperity speech memory intelligence fortitude forbearance fame beauty fine speech memory intelligence forbearance forgiveness fame beauty speech remembrance intelligence constancy forbearance
1) kirttih – Fame. All agree.
2) srih – Prabhupada is the only one to translate “srih” as “fortune”. Tripurari Swami translates it as “prosperity” while Narayana Maharaja and Garuda dasa translate it as “beauty.” Fortune and prosperity are the same, of course. Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura defines it as “beauty.” In his purport, Narayana Maharaja defines it again as “beauty or fortune.”
3) vak – Speech or “fine speech.” Same thing, really. In his purport, Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura translates it as “cultured speech.” Tripurari Swami says that “Speech (vak) is also identified with the Sanskrit language, which is said to be capable of expressing all ideas.”
4) smrtih – Memory or remembrance. Also the same.
5) medha – Intelligence. All agree. This was the word that Praveen specifically mentioned in her comment. “Of women (or “Of feminine attributes”)… I am intelligence.” All translations agree. There’s also nothing in the purports about this.
6 & 7) dhrtih & ksama – This word and the next, ksama, seem to have very similar meanings. So much so that while Tripurari Swami used the word “forbearance” for dhrtih, Narayana Maharaja and Garuda dasa used it for ksama. The words: fortitude, forbearance and constancy are all very similar in meaning. Every translation, except for Srila Prabhupada’s uses them for one or both of the words. Srila Prabhupada uses “faithfulness” and “patience” respectively. I really like that. Faithfulness is a type of fortitude, but it’s softer and seems more spiritual. Patience is a virtue, similar to forbearance, but kinder, with more mercy. And speaking of mercy, Narayana Maharaja translates ksama as forgiveness, possibly taking that hint from Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura. Forgiveness is certainly one of the most wonderful things ever. To be forgiven is beautiful. I’m not sure why it is translated as such when others translate it as patience or forbearance, but I’m glad it’s there.
Interestingly enough, Srila Prabhupada translated “ksama” as “forgiveness” in Srimad Bhagavatam, Canto Seven and in many classes.
And that’s the verse.
The reason that this was picked was because of the last part. The “of women” part. Here, Krishna is saying that he is the good qualities of women. These qualities are actually the qualities of the seven wives of dharma (as noted in Tripurari Swami’s purport), though he doesn’t mention who they were (aside from their names clearly being the words above – Kirti, Sri, etc).
The Srimad Bhagavatam, Canto 6, Chapter 6 is all about the Daughters of Daksa and their Progeny. However, from what I read, it doesn’t mention these daughters. Just that Prajapati Daksa has sixty daughters. Is it mentioned elsewhere in the Bhagavatam? I don’t know. I’m not a scholar, I’m a parrot.
Narayana Maharaja’s purport goes into more detail. They were the daughters of Prajapati Daksa. He was the one who cursed Narada Muni so that he (Narada) had to constantly travel (which seems to be why sanyasis must travel).
I’ve just spent the last half hour researching the daughters of Daksa. There are different accounts as to how many daughters he had (sixty, twenty-four, etc). And it’s rather confusing, so I stopped, thinking that I was probably taking it a bit too far.
And in that light, I leave you with the last bit of purport from Srila Prabhupada…
“The six opulences listed are considered to be feminine. If a woman possesses all of them or some of them she becomes glorious. Sanskrit is a perfect language and is therefore very glorious. After studying, if one can remember the subject matter, he is gifted with good memory, or smrti. One need not read many books on different subject matters; the ability to remember a few and quote them when necessary is also another opulence.”